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Music in the Vineyards' 17th season creates musical alchemy

Napa Valley Register
The festival offers free open rehearsals on Thursdays, two family concerts and a closing-night celebration at Silverado Vineyards.

Thirty-three classically trained musicians from around the world will descend upon the Napa Valley next week for Music in the Vineyards’ 17th annual chamber music festival.

Some of the musicians are friends of the festival who view the three-week festivities as a chance for reconnecting, while others, who have never met before, arrive ready to collaborate with new performers in their field.

According to the festival’s artistic directors, the unpredictable chemistry that ensues is what keeps the festival fresh and interesting after 17 years.

Michael and Daria Adams, the husband-wife duo, spend hours deliberating over which musicians to invite and who to place together.

“We like to describe it as musical alchemy with the goal of creating chemistry between the musicians,” Michael Adams said. “It’s very satisfying to be musical matchmakers and inspiring to see and hear the results.”

Opening the 17th season is the Borromeo String Quartet, whose first violinist Nick Kitchen, studied with Adams at Yale’s summer music school in 1981.

The Quartet will perform as a group on the festival’s sold-out opening night at Beringer Vineyards, and will mix and match with other musicians for the weekend concerts.

“I am really looking forward to seeing Nick for the first time since Yale, where we played quartets together and learned the ropes,” Adams said.

The festival will also welcome the young, 2010 winner of the Irving M. Klein International String Competition, violinist Francesca dePasquale. Returning favorites include the internationally acclaimed Pacifica Quartet, who will join Music in the Vineyards for a two-week residency after being named quartet-in-residence at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

The festival, which boasts a varied repertoire of new and classic chamber music, is held in barrel rooms, caves, and private event rooms of a dozen different wineries up and down the valley. The venues, which seat between 120-225 and pour complimentary wine at intermission, allow audiences a glimpse into the world of chamber music.

Michael Adams also provides commentary giving background information on the music and composer.

“While we are always excited to play the great standards, like Schubert’s ‘Trout’ quintet (Aug. 13), Dvorak’s piano quintet (Aug. 19) and the Brahms horn trio (Aug 6), we encourage our audience to check out some of the great pieces they might not have heard before,” Adams said.

He suggests pieces like George Crumb’s “Voice of the Whale,” inspired by the haunting songs of the great humpbacks, which is paired with Anton Bruckner’s romantic, yet rarely heard string quintet on Aug. 14 at Clos Pegase, or Tchaikovsky’s epic piano trio paired with Johan Svendsen’s Octet for strings on August 20 at Silverado Vineyards.

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